Heya! thanks for visiting, we’ve moved so you can now find us at www.themindfulnesskitchen.co.uk

Emma x

Category: Review

Greenbelt and a Change in Direction

Greenbelt and a Change in Direction

Today I’m branching out of recipe writing and so instead I’ve got a post on my recent experience at Greenbelt which has inspired me to take this blog in a new direction. (Quick heads up – the photos in this post aren’t great quality as they were taken on my ipod and not my camera!) For those of you who haven’t come across Greenbelt before it’s a festival at Boughton House in Kettering, traditionally with Christian roots, that is very egalitarian and liberal. Throughout the course of the bank holiday weekend there is a whole range of live music, theatre, art, demonstrations, workshops, poetry, dance, talks, and of course food, all themed around liberation, equality, solidarity, and community. It sounds pretty unconventional as far as most festivals go, but it’s genuinely so lovely as there’s something for absolutely everyone and everyone is so nice!

Several of months ago my god mother was asked to lead a new venue called ‘The Table’, and she asked me to join her on the team. The venue hosted a whole range of chefs focusing on different issues and topics who did really interesting live cooking demonstrations. Our job, as the venue hosts, was to help out the chefs, prep the ingredients and (of course) do the washing up.  I found this so much fun as being so close to all these amazing chefs and seeing how they each use their food to deliver a message or to fight for a cause was really inspiring!

For example, there was one chef, Pheobe Rison, who was from Palestine and was using her food as a way of keeping her Palestinian roots and culture alive, even though she herself had had her Palestinian citizenship taken away from her due to the current political unrest in the country. Her delicious food, combined with her heartfelt stories and the motivation driving her was really moving. I also met lots of other amazing chefs like Jack Monroe, author of Cooking on a Bootstrap, who writes budget for recipes those living on low incomes and for those who have to use foodbanks, and Brett Cobley (aka epivegan) who gave a really interesting demo on vegan cooking. These were really amazing examples of how food can be so much more than just pretty photos on Instagram, and it all made me think about my own cooking and the message I want to give out.

For a while now I’ve felt that it’s time for me to specialise this blog and to make it more than just a bunch of recipes, but it’s taken until now for me to nail down what it is I want to say through my food.  Mental health awareness and support is an issue that has long been very close to my heart. As someone who suffers with mental health problems herself, not to mention knowing lots of other people with mental health issues, I’m really keen on getting people to talk openly about mental health problems and I’d love to use my food to help with this.

It’ll still be me writing the posts and I’ll still be posting recipes that I’ve developed, so you can expect the same kind of food to keep coming (ie my sweet tooth will be going no where!). However, I will also be focusing on dishes that are nutritious, comforting, quick and/or easy (to suit those who are going through a bout of depression and so on) and to acknowledge my own mental health issues through what I’m cooking. For instance I often don’t feel up to writing and I frequently don’t even want to cook or eat, but rather than covering up these times in my life with dishes I made back when I was feeling more stable and putting on a happy front, I’d rather show what I do like to make when I’m going through a bad time, to show support for others who might be going through something similar.

This is a new direction for Cocoa and Thyme and so I understand that this new idea/drive behind my blog might not be for everyone. I’m choosing, however, to take on this new angle in order to be more open and to promote a message that means a lot to me, and I’m hoping that this will be helpful to some people. I’ve got a month of already prepped recipes to post so I’ll get on with those, but after that I’ll start focusing more on mental health well-being and support through my food. I’ll be writing up a more coherent aim for the blog in my bio over the next couple of days, so if this is a bit too much of a ramble for you to decipher give that a read when it comes out! (I will also be changing the name of the blog at some point so keep an eye out for that!)

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think of this change in direction, feedback is always valued (providing it’s constructive) and I’d love to hear from you!

Emma x

The 5 Best Cookbooks On The Market!

The 5 Best Cookbooks On The Market!

If you’ve been following my social media then you’ll know that August is going to be a book-themed month here on Cocoa and Thyme. That means that all my recipes will be inspired by various books that I’ve been recommended to read by you guys! So as an intro to my month of book themed recipes I thought I’d do a little book review to branch out of the world of recipe writing and into reviewing. Here’s a speedy tour of my current 5 favourite cookbooks that I’d recommend to anyone looking for one at the moment. These cover all kinds of genres, layouts and themes, so there’s something for everyone, from a fellow foodie to a chilled out home cook…

Gather – by Gill  Meller

I first came across this beautiful book in the shop at Blenheim palace whilst on an art trip (as you do).  I remember flicking through the pages and instantly falling in love with it because of the gorgeous images and layout. Rather than being split into chapters like the classic starters, main course, dessert, and so on, ‘gather’ is split up by locations. Each chapter starts with a stunning photograph of a garden, moorland, woodland, harbour etc, and is followed by a mouth watering array of recipes using ingredients from those environments. Whilst it’s all just photos and words, this book really makes you feel like you’re on a boat, bobbing across the ocean about to catch a lobster, or foraging in the woods for chestnuts!

The quality of the recipes is also great for any budding chef, as each one is really interesting and accomplished! I wouldn’t say that it’s the best book for beginners as the recipes, whilst not all technically challenging, could appear a bit daunting. That said, this is perfect for anyone who loves trying new things, is a landscape lover like me, or who is looking for some recipes that are a bit different to the stuff you’ll find online or in your standard cookbook.

 

Comfort – by John Whaite

This next one was given to me by my sister for my birthday this year, and I’m obsessed with it! All the recipes and photos make you drool as you flick through the pages, with delicious, nostalgic treats tumbling out of the pages. A great feature is that there’s a good range of original and classic, easy and more challenging dishes in here, so it’s perfect for all types of cooks who love a bit of home comfort. There’s also a good mixture of sweet and savoury dishes in this one, which I think is really nice as a lot of books focus primarily on one or the other. The only criticism I can give here is that this is not something you should buy for someone on a diet! The catch phrase on the front cover ‘food to south the soul’ is definitely accurate, but it won’t slim your waistline!

 

Sweet – by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh 

Third one on the list is this incredible Bible of sweet treats! What I really love about this one is that it’s jam packed with all the kinds of things you’d expect a book like this to have – ie biscuits, cakes, sweets and so on, but all of the recipes are really original and not like anything I’ve come across before. This makes it a really valuable inspiration book as much as a recipe book, as you won’t just be seeing the same old Victoria jam sponge, or chocolate chip cookies, but instead your eyes will be opened to all kinds of flavour combos and other things you could be making.

Like with ‘gather’ up above, this one probably isn’t the best one to go for if you’re a complete beginner (looking for step by step guidance as to how to crack an egg and so on) as it doesn’t cover the basics/classics that much. But anyone else from basic to expert will have a blast with this book!

Scandikitchen: Fika and Hygge – by Bronte Aurell

This one may appear humble and homey at first sight, but is an absolute must-have for anyone who has an interest in foreign baking/cooking. This collection of Scandinavian bakes are all really interesting, unusual and, most importantly, delicious! The book is also full of beautiful photographs, both of the food and of the Author’s home, which  gives it a really lovely homey feel and makes you want to go home and start baking with your family. I’ve also come across loads of new bakes in here that I’d never even heard of before. That amazing sticky kladdaka chocolate cake I made at Christmas was inspired by a white chocolate version I saw in here!

So if you’re looking for a little bundle of comfort which will make you want to hop over to Scandinavia just so you can eat some of these treats wrapped up in front of the fire with a good cup of coffee, this is the one for you!

 

Naples and the Amalfi Coast – by The Silver Spoon

So the final book on my top 5 is this beauty on the cuisine of the Amalfi coast in Italy. My Mum and I visited Sorrento, a little town in this region, a couple of years ago, and so when I saw this book full of recipes inspired by the area I had to get it! Unlike all the other books on this list, this one has a lot of food writing in it, and by that I mean pages of descriptive writing about the cuisine of the area. This makes it perfect for anyone with an interest in Italian cuisine, or the area in general, who wants to learn lots about the local produce and dishes. The book also contains lots of recipes, which is great because you can read all about Sorrento lemons (for example) and then there’ll be a delicious classical Amalfi recipe for you to try which uses lemons!

The Silver Spoon Kitchen, author of the book, has also written other books like this based on Tuscany, Puglia and so on. Whilst I haven’t read these books myself, if they’re anything like this one and you’re interested in cuisine from that region they’re worth buying!

Thanks for reading! This was my first review so let me know if you like this kind of thing and if you want to see more of it. Also please drop a comment and let me know what you think about these books – have you read any of them yourself? Would you recommend any others?

Emma x